×

Investing in gold: Big players put money into the precious metal

Bullish calls on the precious metal as prices rise in a turbulent market.

It's not just Olympians who will be going for the gold this month. Bill Gross is bullish on gold, and he's got plenty of company in 2016.

In a turbulent market, or worse still, a sputtering financial system, the precious metal becomes that much more precious in a market offering less and less in the way of yield. Gross voiced concerns about the financial system, economy and persistently low interest rates when he talked up gold in his August letter to investors.

"Not immediately, but at the margin, low/negative yielding credit is exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal gold or cash in a mattress," the Janus Capital Group fund manager said in a note Wednesday. "When it does, the system de-levers as cash at the core, or real assets like gold at the risk exterior, become the more desirable assets."

Gross joins a big and growing cadre of investors looking to mine yield in gold at a time when positive returns are becoming increasingly scarce.

Other recent investors in gold include Stanley Druckenmiller, George Soros and Jeffrey Gundlach.

DoubleLine Capital CEO Gundlach said recently that gold could go to $1,400, and he continues to hold the precious metal. Soros has reportedly been buying both gold and gold mining shares. On Wednesday, it was trading above $1,360 an ounce.

The rising chance of investors taking either negative returns or outright losses across a number of asset classes makes real assets more valuable right now, Gross said.

Gold bars
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"I don't like bonds; I don't like most stocks; I don't like private equity," he wrote. "Real assets such as land, gold, and tangible plant and equipment at a discount are favored asset categories."

And gold has increasingly become favorable to investors in 2016. Amid a turbulent market, some of Wall Street's top stock pickers have picked the precious metal to net returns, and gold has delivered by outpacing market benchmarks at a time when disappointing economic reports are persuading U.S. central bankers to hold off on rate hikes, pressuring yield.

Not everyone is buying Gross' dire predictions. But more investors are buying gold.

David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital saw major gains in the second quarter from its gold and gold stocks positions.

Dennis Gartman wrote last month that he doesn't think Western culture is "doomed to fail" or that a recession is even necessarily on the way — but he is, and has been, a gold investor for some time.

And some analysts say that despite gold's rally, more appreciation is on the way.

Juerg Kiener, Swiss Asia Capital's Singapore managing director and chief investment officer, predicted gold will soar past its all-time high set in 2011 of $1,900 per ounce.

Bank of America analysts last month lifted their target on gold to $1,475 after seeing investors pile into the precious metal on turbulence generated by the U.K. Brexit vote, along with other market factors.

"The world has been walking from crisis to crisis and we see risks that this may not change," they wrote.

—CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report.